Errol Milner Clifford 2006-2009

Errol Milner Clifford was born with a significant heart defect and a cognitive disability that prevented him from walking or talking. As we grieved the child we had anticipated, Errol’s full-bodied smile and irrepressible laugh turned our sorrow into joy, and taught us that many of the best things in life are unexpected. Inspired by Errol’s delightful spirit, friends, family, and neighbors rallied to support our family’s significant emotional, physical, and financial needs, through countless acts of selfless generosity. When Errol’s courageous heart finally failed him on December 23, 2009 we were left numb with grief. In these dark hours we listen hopefully for the echoes of Errol’s brilliant laugh. This blog is the story (starting from present and working back to Errol's birth) of the life and times of the amazing Errol Clifford.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Bi-Polar Bear


During the holidays, the windows of Duke Medical Center are adorned with seasonal cheer. The window drawings are supposed to make people feel better, but the hospital is still full of sick people.

On a large fifth floor window up on the children's wing someone drew a large polar bear with big cheerful letters exclaiming, "The Polar Bear wishes you Happy Holidays!" A naughty person edited the drawing by adding "Bi" in front of "Polar Bear", saddling the poor mentally ill mammal with a pre-existing condition.

Up on the ninth floor the large windows look out on the helicopter pad! This is where the flights of hope land. Where they bring the sick for one last chance...

Just inside of the helipad, the windows are covered with big colorful ribbons above the names of various strains of cancer: breast, brain, and my favorite, testicular (which you, gentlemen, have a 1 in 300 chance of getting.) I don't know if seeing a list of cancers is supposed to make us feel better, less alone, or just grateful to be alive, but there were a lot more people hanging out with the manic-depressive uninsurable bear than with the parade of cancers.

As if the ribbons didn't create enough pathos, someone had carved out of the purple ribbon, "La vida is corta" life is short.
Sunlight seeped in through the cut out words. Further down the windows, someone has written Voltaire's instructions about what to do about it.

Errol knows about shipwrecks, and he certainly knows how to sing...

We go to the hospital to be born, and to die. The hospital hums with joy and sadness and final hopes. Errol is ever so slowly getting better. He's hardly eaten in the past two days, but his chest tube is out and he is hoping to fly home.

1 comment:

Kay said...

As angelic as he looked sleeping, it is nice to see him out and about on his wheels. Hope to see him home soon!